The psychology of driving: Steering clear of cognitive pitfalls

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2024 | Auto Accidents |

Driving in North Carolina is a challenge that demands more than just knowledge of the roads. It requires a sharp mind and an understanding of one’s own driving behaviors. Every driver brings a unique set of cognitive biases to the steering wheel, which can significantly impact their driving behavior.

Cognitive biases behind the wheel 

Cognitive biases are patterns in our thinking that can cause us to make decisions or judgments that aren’t always the best or most logical. In other words, our brains sometimes take shortcuts that can mess with our driving. Here are some ways this can happen:

  • Confirmation bias refers to our tendency to seek information that supports our existing beliefs. For example, a driver who believes they are always right might disregard new information or indications that they are creating hazards for others.
  • Overconfidence bias is believing we’re better drivers than we actually are, which can result in taking unnecessary risks.
  • Inattentional blindness is failing to see unexpected events when attention is engaged on another task, like not seeing a motorcyclist in our paths because we are looking for larger vehicles.

We may not actively think about these biases behind the wheel, but knowing that they exist in everyone can help us appreciate their impact on our driving habits and decisions.

Training the mind for safer driving 

To combat these biases and enhance driving safety, consider the following tips:

  • Stay informed: Keep up with traffic laws and safety recommendations.
  • Reflect on your driving habits: Regularly assess your driving and acknowledge areas for improvement. Take note of your own personality type and driving habits, which can dramatically impact everything from your use of automated driving features to how fast you drive.
  • Practice defensive driving: Stay alert, be aware of your surroundings and anticipate potential hazards, including other motorists who are reckless or negligent.

By understanding how our minds work, we can be better drivers. We can learn to spot these mind tricks and keep them from affecting our driving. The goal is to foster a driving environment where safety comes first and accidents are rare.

While driving can be unpredictable, a driver’s greatest ally is their own mind. By staying vigilant against cognitive biases and actively working to improve our driving psychology, we can contribute to safer roads.